Tyonek, The Beach People


Tyonek, home of the Beach People, may be just an up and down flight across Cook Inlet from Anchorage, but that short hop includes flying over the delta where the mighty Susitna River empties into Cook Inlet and a view all the way down the Inlet to the Aleutian volcanoes. Oh Tyonek, so beautiful on the first three perfect spring days!







Tyonek is a small, quiet village. We received a warm welcome at Tegbughna School from Principal Pam Potter. Some of us even had real beds at our headquarters across the road from the school in Teacher Housing.

Thirty-three children participated in our workshops, which is interesting considering the school’s official enrollment figure is 28.  Way to go, Tebughna School students! Several of you were able to keep a straight face in spite of all the silly antics of our actors who were determined to make you laugh. Following our theater games, Erika (Lynx) Bergren’s poetry workshop helped us connect with what makes Tyonek special to the kids who live there.

Actor and Poet Lance Claymore (Wolf) models the prompt for our Poetry workshop.

Such a wealth of talent among Tyonek kids!

The pre-show potluck carried on despite a 1.5-hour power outage which meant none of the cooks were able to make fry bread. Thanks to Janelle Baker, Native Village of Tyonek, we had a terrific turnout of 45 for our show, that’s 38% of the total population.

Ah Tyonek, we’ll remember your endless beach and breaching belugas, but most of all your great kids and friendly people.


36th Annual Protecting Our Children Conference – Anchorage 2018

We were excited that The Winter Bear & the Power of Story was accepted for a panel discussion at the 36th Annual American Indian Child Welfare Association meeting at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage in April 2018.

We were honored that Sidney Huntington’s daughter, Anna Huntington-Kriska, who is also the Grant Advisor for Behavioral Health at Southcentral Foundation, was one of our panel members, along with Winter Bear Lead Actor Brían Wescott, Director Tom Robenolt and Playwright Anne Hanley.

Ms. Huntington-Kriska told her own powerful story of how suicide has impacted her life and why she has chosen time and again to cycle back into suicide prevention work.

Annie Huntington-Kriska, one of Sidney’s daughters.

Audience members told us about their own arts-related suicide prevention projects. Two that stood out: A California project about suicide that wove personal stories of suicide survivors into compelling dramas; and an arts collective in Manitoba that explored the root causes of suicide through poetry, music and art.

Thank you NICWA for allowing us to connect with people from all over the U.S. and Canada who are harnessing the power of story to break the hold of suicide.

~Anne Hanley, Playwright